Automakers aren’t immune from economics despite their best efforts to convince us otherwise. Racing pedigree takes a backseat to profitability every day, no matter how many times we’re reminded of the former. “Passion projects” still need sign-off from the accounting department because brand awareness doesn’t keep the lights on.
Perhaps that’s why it shouldn’t be a surprise that McLaren is reportedly thinking about an electric SUV. It’d be more surprising to hear they weren’t. McLaren is a business, after all.
I’ll spare you a point-by-point takedown of Autocar’s woefully vague report that someone in the halls of McLaren whispered about making an electric SUV by the end of this decade while staring at the espresso machine, or something. Product development certainly won’t take until the end of the decade, can happen in parallel with battery innovations to make lighter-weight components, and promising something in nearly a decade absolves anyone of accountability—guesstimates and Farmer's Almanacs are more specific. (It really doesn’t take 8 years to create a car, from scratch, for an established automaker like McLaren.)
Rather, it was the surprise and audible gasps from the room that McLaren would dilute its brand by building a car that people have shown they’re willing to pay money for. It’s a well-worn reflex now to say that Porsche’s Macan and Cayenne are Reasons No. 1 and 2 why the world has new 911s to talk about. It's still true, but Porsche is far from alone: the Lamborghini Urus is about to be the only reason a new sportscar can ever be made in Sant’Agata again; the Bentayga may not look much like a traditional Bentley, but looks don’t matter at all on the bottom line—those numbers look just fine. Expect the same from the Purosangue, an SUV that’ll be so far from Ferrari’s heritage that they need to remind you in the name—“thoroughbred” or “pure blood”—it’s related to Enzo, somehow.
And so on.
These are the times. They’ll change, too. But in eight years, McLaren better have an electric car that people want to buy and that makes them money otherwise I’m certain there won’t be a McLaren to wildly speculate about.
Tips? Send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org